Small Business Saturday shines a light on independently owned stores

November 26, 2016
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Brad Hundt/Observer-Reporter
Merchant Cindy Lawrence shows off a Christmas plate in Beallsville at a Small Business Saturday event. Order a Print
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Brad Hundt/Observer-Reporter
Tote bags promoting Small Business Saturday were featured in the window of Fanatic Impressions in downtown Washington Saturday afternoon. Order a Print

RICHEYVILLE – Thursday was a day for big heapings of turkey, slathered in big servings of gravy.

Friday was a day for hitting big-box retailers and getting a big deal on a big-screen television.

Saturday, however, was a day to scale down.

It was Small Business Saturday, a retail holiday designed to shine a spotlight on America’s independently-owned enterprises that don’t have parking spaces in the hundreds or ad budgets in the millions, but nevertheless offer convenience to customers, enliven downtown shopping districts or offer specialized products.

“It’s a good day,” said Amy Snodgrass, co-owner of Joe’s Farm Market in Richeyville, one of the businesses in Washington County that participated in Small Business Saturday. With stickers and balloons promoting Small Business Saturday at her front counter, Snodgrass said they witnessed an increase in foot traffic Saturday. Some of it could be credited to the promotional push that comes with Small Business Saturday, Snodgrass explained, while some of it could also have been the result of people checking out Christmas-related items and the late November chill stoking a Yuletide spirit.

“Everyone’s in the mood,” she said. “It feels like Christmas.”

A little way down Route 40 in Beallsville, Mary Mayer, the owner of Mary’s Corner Cafe, spearheaded a local “Christkindlesmarkt” Saturday, with about 20 artisans selling items like homemade wreaths, jewelry, candles, soap and furniture. The borough donated alley space to the event, which drew about 200 customers by about 2 p.m. Saturday.

Kelly Hunt, Pittsburgh District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, said they hoped to stage another Christkindlesmarkt in Beallsville next year, though they might alter the hours to take advantage of warmer afternoon temperatures.

“We learned a lot,” Hunt said.

Small Business Saturday first bowed six years ago in Roslindale Village, Mass., and is now promoted by American Express with tote bags and television commercials. The final stop on the extended Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend is Cyber Monday, when some merchants offer specials and inducements to get customers to shop online.

Merchants in downtown Washington joined in the Small Business Saturday festivities for the second time this year, offering deals on select items, food or, in the case of a few stores, samples of food and drink.

Angela Burgess, co-owner of Washington Winery and A&M Wine and Beer Supplies, said she was happy with the number of customers who frequented her business Saturday, pronouncing it “a pretty decent day.”

The winery offered $1 off glasses of wine and complimentary wine tastings.

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from George State University in Atlanta, Ga., and a master’s in popular culture studies from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University. He has covered the arts and entertainment for the O-R, and also worked as a municipal beat reporter. He now serves as editorial page editor.

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